Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to present the Union Budget 2023-24 once again in the second term of the Narendra Modi government in the Parliament on Wednesday, 1 February. While the budget session will commence with the presentation of the Economic Survey on 31 January, the budget speech is scheduled to begin at 11 AM the next day. Notably, this will be Sitharaman’s fifth straight budget for the upcoming fiscal year and also the last full budget of the present Modi government ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Just like the previous two budgets, this one too will be delivered in a paperless form.
Ahead of the budget session, let’s know about a few interesting facts about the crucial annual financial statement.
Union Budget 2023: Interesting facts India’s first budget: While India’s first-ever budget was presented by the British government in 1860, the first Union Budget of independent India was presented in November 1947 by the country’s first Finance Minister R. K. Shanmukham Chetty.
PMs to present the budget: While it has been a tradition for finance ministers to present the budget, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi are the only Prime Ministers to have done the same during their terms.
Rail Budget was merged: Earlier, the rail budget used to be presented separately by the government. However, in 2017, it was merged with the Union Budget.
Timing of the Budget Session: Earlier, the Union Budget was presented on the last working day of February, however, late finance minister Arun Jaitley changed it to 1 February.
Halwa ceremony and lock-in process: There is a customary event called the ‘halwa ceremony’ that is held every year before the ‘lock-in’ process ahead of the Union Budget. While the finance minister begins by participating in the ‘halwa’ preparation and serving the dessert to their colleagues, it is then followed by the lock-in process when all officials involved in the Budget preparation are made to stay inside the Budget Press in the North Block. This is done to ensure the secrecy of the financial document.
Longest budget speech: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivered the longest budget speech during the presentation of the Union Budget 2020. She spoke for approximately 2 hours and 42 minutes.
First paperless budget: Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sitharaman presented the first paperless budget in 2021.
Minister to present the maximum number of budgets: Former Prime Minister Moraraji Desai holds the record of presenting the maximum number of budgets (10) during his tenure as the finance minister.
The first woman to present the budget: While former PM Indira Gandhi was the first woman to present the Union Budget, Nirmala Sitharaman became the second woman to present India’s Union Budget.
Black Budget: The Union Budget presented for the fiscal year of 1973-74 was termed the ‘Black Budget’, considering the high budget deficit of Rs 550 crores that was recorded at that time.
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